French Numbers

 

French numbers just like their English counterparts come in two flavors: cardinal (e.g. un, deux, trois… / one, two, three…) and ordinal (e.g. premier, deuxième, troisième… / first, second, third…).  The good thing is that, apart from premier / first, ordinal numbers use their cardinal cousins as roots, in most cases merely adding a -ième ending to them.

1.  Cardinal Numbers:

As in English, cardinal French numbers can be divided in two: numbers which are unique words and numbers which are a combination of other numbers.

Unique Numbers: from 0 to sixteen, all numbers are unique words.  So are the tens from 20 to 60.  After that, hundreds use the unique base cent, thousands use mille, millions use million like English and billions use milliard.

Unique Cardinal Numbers (0-16)

zéro

0

six

6

douze

12

un

1

sept

7

treize

13

deux

2

huit

8

quatorze

14

trois

3

neuf

9

quinze

15

quatre

4

dix

10

seize

16

cinq

5

onze

11

Other Unique Cardinal Numbers

vingt

20

cinquante

50

mille

1000

trente

30

* soixante

60

million

million

quarante

40

cent

100

milliard

billion

† Note that even though 40, 50 and 60 are unique words, their roots are still quite recognizable (e.g. quatre for quarante, cinq for cinquante and six for soixante).

* Here the x in soixante is pronounced like the s in the word sound.

Numbers built on Combinations of other Numbers: the words for the remaining French numbers, at least up to 999 billion, use different combinations of the 26 numbers above.

#  First combination: 17, 18 and 19 use the words for ten (e.g. dix) and the words for seven, eight and nine (e.g. sept, huit and neuf).

dix-sept

17

ten-seven

dix-huit

18

ten-eight

dix-neuf

19

ten-nine

#  Second combination: numbers from 21 to 69, except those ending with a 1 (e.g. 21, 31, 41, 51 and 61), use a combination of the words for the corresponding   tens and units (e.g. vingtdeux / twenty-two,  trentetrois / thirty-three,quarantequatre / forty-four, etc…).  This is the same construction as English (e.g. twenty – two,  thirty – three,  forty – four, etc…).  For the 5 numbers ending with a 1, it is necessary to add -et- / -and- between the two words.  This addition of -et- also holds for 71 — but not 81 and 91 — even though the rules governing it are different.

Combination Numbers (21, 31, 41, 51, 61)

vingt-et-un

21

trente-et-un

31

quarante-et-un

41

cinquante-et-un

51

soixante-et-un

61

Other Combination Numbers (22 to 69)

vingt-deux

22

quarante-six

46

trente-trois

33

cinquante-sept

57

trente-quatre

34

cinquante-huit

58

quarante -cinq

45

soixante-neuf

69

#  Third combination: numbers from 70 to 79 behave as if you’d started counting again at sixty.  70 is soixante-dix / sixty-ten, 71 soixante-et-onze / sixty-eleven, 72 soixante-douze / sixty-twelve, etc…

Combination Numbers (70 … 79)

soixante-dix

70

soixante-quinze

75

soixante-etonze

71

soixante-seize

76

soixante-douze

72

soixante-dix-sept

77

soixante-treize

73

soixante-dix-huit

78

soixante-quatorze

74

soixante-dix-neuf

79

#  Fourth combination: 80 doesn’t follow on from 70.  Instead, 80 uses a   figurative multiplication: quatre-vingts, literally four-twenties (or four times   twenty).  As with the 70’s, the 80’s behave as if the counter was reset, this time at  8080 is quatre-vingts / four-twenties, 81 quatre-vingts-un / four-twenties-one, 82 quatre-vingts-deux / four-twenties-two, etc…

Combination Numbers (80 … 89)

quatre-vingts

80

quatre-vingts-cinq

85

quatre-vingts-un

81

quatre-vingts-six

86

quatre-vingts-deux

82

quatre-vingts-sept

87

quatre-vingts-trois

83

quatre-vingts-huit

88

quatre-vingts-quatre

84

quatre-vingts-neuf

89

The 90’s follow on from the 80’s in the same way the 70’s continued on from the 60’s; this time the counter continues from 80:

Combination Numbers (90 … 99)

quatre-vingts-dix

90

quatre-vingts-quinze

95

quatre-vingts-onze

91

quatre-vingts-seize

96

quatre-vingts-douze

92

quatre-vingts-dix-sept

97

quatre-vingts-treize

93

quatre-vingts-dix-huit

98

quatre-vingts-quatorze

94

quatre-vingts-dix-neuf

99

#  Fifth combination: hundreds are built around cent.  From 100 to 199, numbers use the following formula: cent + number with number being drawn from the 100 numbers we’ve already seen.

Combination Numbers (100 … 199)

cent

100

cent onze

111

cent un

101

cent vingt deux

122

cent deux

102

cent trente trois

133

cent trois

103

cent cinquante quatre

154

cent quatre

104

cent soixante-quinze

175

cent cinq

105

cent quatre-vingts-seize

196

From 200 to 999, the formula is number1 + cent + number2 with number1 going from 2 to 9 and number2 from 1 to 99.

Combination Numbers (200 … 999)

deux cents

200

deux cent onze

111

trois cents

300

trois cent vingt deux

322

quatre cents

400

quatre cent trente trois

433

cinq cents

500

cinq cent cinquante quatre

554

six cents

600

six cent soixante-cinq

665

sept cents

700

sept cent soixante-seize

776

huit cents

800

huit cent quatre-vingts-sept

887

neuf cents

900

neuf cent quatre-vingts-dix-neuf

999

Note that when cent is not followed by another number, it takes an -s ending to reflect the plural.

Beyond 999, numbers use mille to indicate thousands in the same way that numbers use cent to indicate hundreds, except that mille is invariant and never   takes an -s.  For 1 million to 999 million, use million (e.g. 1,200,570: un million     deux cent mille cinq cent soixante-dix).  For 1 billion to 999 billion, use    milliard (e.g. 7,382,570,106: sept milliard trois cent quatre-vingts-deux million cinq cent soixante-dix mille cent six).

2.  Ordinal Numbers:

As previously stated at the beginning of this lesson, ordinal numbers build on the root of their cardinal cousins by adding a –ième ending.  The only exception is premier / first which doesn’t follow the rule at all.  Beyond this, you need to keep track of only three things:

a)      when a cardinal number ends in -e, the corresponding ordinal number drops the e before adding the –ième (e.g. quatre/four è quatrième/fourth,  onze/eleven è onzième/eleventh).

b)      the number cinq/five adds a -u before adding the –ième: cinquième.

c)      the number neuf/nine transforms the final -f into a -v before adding the –ième: neuvième

Ordinal Numbers

premier

first

deuxième

second

troisième

third

quatrième

fourth

cinquième

fifth

Ordinal Numbers

sixième

sixth

septième

seventh

huitième

eighth

neuvième

ninth

dixième

tenth

Ordinal Numbers

onzième

Eleventh

douzième

Twelfth

vingtième

twentieth

cinquantième

fiftieth

centième

hundredth

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